The National Age Groups Open Water Swimming Championships started with the boy’s and girl’s 1.5k races at Rother Valley Country Park in Sheffield.
The 14yrs age group kicked off the event, with the boys and girls entering the water at the same time. Shannon Dalligan of Ellesmere College, who won her age group last year, looked strong for the girls in the first lap, sighting well and with some clear water behind her.
Despite the good start, it was City of Leeds’ Leah Crisp, newcomer to open water, who clinched the gold medal in a time of 18:56.37.
“That was hard,” said Crisp. “It’s my first time doing open water and I wasn’t sure what to expect, so the start was quite difficult.
“Eventually I caught everyone up and started overtaking. Then in the back straight I saw there were only two girls ahead of me and I managed to swim past them.
“I came along for the experience, so I never expected to win, but winning the gold is incredible.”
Crisp was followed by Rosie Holland of Ellesmere College (18:57.21) and Emilia Sansome of Wycombe District (19:03.53), with Dalligan finishing in fifth.
The boy’s 14yrs age group was hotly contested in the last lap. Both George Barber of Grimsby AST and Jack Buswell of Northampton matched each other stroke for stroke in the final straight.
Barber eventually clinched the win with a time of 18:23.09 and Buswell followed under a second behind, touching 18:23.98. Hector Pardoe of Ellesmere College followed up for third (18:25.80).
The 13yrs and over was not as close, with clear winners in both races. Anne-Marie Hudman gave the boys a run for their money, coming in third overall and winning the gold medal in the girl’s event. The Northampton swimmer touched 19:47.03 for the win.
Tia Wilson of Modernians claimed silver with 19:52.91 and Enfield swimmer Megan Molloy received bronze with 19:56.79.
Similarly in the boy’s event, it was Ioan Evans of Bridgend City who stole the limelight, swimming almost two minutes faster than third place, and nine seconds faster than second place, touching 18:01.11 for gold.
Charlie Hutchison came in second place with a time of 18:10.65. The young Ellesmere College swimmer had been setting British Age Group records at the British Summer Championships last week, and continued his great run with a silver medal in open water.
Timothy Hughes of Hatfield led the main pack, claiming his bronze medal with a time of 19:55.63.
The 12yrs age group was dominated by the girls, with nine out of 10 swimmers in the lead pack being female.
Ellesmere College’s Eleanor Bainbridge came in first place (19:59.60) having won the district championships to qualify for the event, while Lucy Woodliffe of Grimsby AST came second in 20:05.77 and Charlotte Wynne-Jones of Bicester was third (20:23.38).